The best summer concerts in NYC

It’s music-festival season! From the Governors Ball blowout to stadium pop happenings and hip indie shows, there are concerts to satisfy every music lover this summer.

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Tune-Yards

Tune-Yards Photograph: Holly Andres


There are plenty of music festivals to get stoked for this summer-both indoors and out. Governors Ball returns with a killer lineup featuring Jack White, OutKast and the Strokes, plus Celebrate Brooklyn! returns with soul star Janelle Monáe. You can also catch some of the biggest artists like Katy Perry or Eminem and Rihanna on their summer tours.

RECOMMENDED: See all summer concerts in NYC

Janelle Monáe

Chalk up the meteoric ascent of Kansas City, KS, spitfire Janelle Monáe to the tenacity and focus of the supremely ambitious and genuinely driven. The Electric Lady, Janelle Monáe's 2013 sophomore LP, continued the loosely knit saga of Cindi Mayweather, an android cast in messianic terms. It was grandiose science fiction, sure; still, you couldn't miss tense undercurrents of isolation, discrimination and persecution. Following in the African-American escapist footsteps of Sun Ra and George Clinton, Monáe couched messages of deliverance in trappings so fantastical that they disarmed opposition—but what you noticed most, hearing her go toe-to-toe with Prince, Miguel, Erykah Badu and Solange on The Electric Lady, is how easy she made it all seem. Here, the mothership touches down in Prospect Park, where Monáe opens the 36th season of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series with a gratis gig.

  1. Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell) Prospect Park West, at 9th St
  2. Wed Jun 4
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The Governors Ball Music Festival

The blockbuster three-day fest returns, sporting a lineup that screams early aughts: the Strokes, Jack White, TV on the Radio, Interpol and, oh yes, the much ballyhooed return of Atlanta alt-hip-hop funkateers OutKast. Other big draws include local-boys-made-good Vampire Weekend, dubstep renegade Skrillex, U.K. house sensation Disclosure, soul fantasist Janelle Monáe, and Odd Future cronies Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Visit governorsballmusicfestival.com for the full scoop.

  1. Randalls Island Park Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at Randalls Island
  2. Fri Jun 6 - Sun Jun 8
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Phish

The peerless jam band has come back with a vengeance since re-emerging five years ago and Trey Anastasio & Co. have plotted yet another epic summer tour. The Vermont quartet’s East Coast run includes this trio of gigs at Randall’s Island, where they’ve never played before. The shows are sure to feature some new songs from the group’s upcoming album, tentatively entitled Wingsuit.

  1. Randalls Island Park Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at Randalls Island
  2. Fri Jul 11 - Sun Jul 13
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Neutral Milk Hotel + Circulatory System

Jeff Mangum’s reunited cult indie-rockers played six New York–area gigs in January. The group’s shows have been selling out so swiftly—and garnering such praiseworthy, nostalgic reviews—that they’ve continually bolstered their already-massive tours. Here, the Elephant 6 torchbearers (still best remembered for their 1998 magnum opus, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea) take their singing saws and brass section outdoors.

  1. Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell) Prospect Park West, at 9th St
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Wed Jul 23
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The Monster Tour: Eminem x Rihanna

Rihanna guested last year on Eminem’s tune, “The Monster,” the duo’s fourth blockbuster collaboration. This tour was the next logical step. The two headliners strike a nice balance—Em’s crass, harsh hip-hop countered by Rihanna’s stylish, poppy R&B. And no doubt about it: Both of these self-proclaimed Monsters possess a indisputably wicked edge.

  1. MetLife Stadium 102 Rte 120
  2. Sat Aug 16 - Sun Aug 17
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Willie Nelson & Family + Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas + Kacey Musgraves

Roots-music bills don't come any more solid than this one, topped by mellow outlaw-country figurehead Willie Nelson, and rounded out by veteran songsmith and recent Robert Plant collaborator Alison Krauss—collaborating here with slide-guitar and pedal-steel ace Jerry Douglas—and Texas up-and-comer Kacey Musgraves, who scored a breakout hit with last year's Same Trailer Different Park.

  1. Radio City Music Hall 1260 Sixth Ave, at 50th St
  2. Tue Jun 10
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Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus airs offbeat party-starters from her new, third LP, Nikki Nack. We anticipate utter dance-floor meltdown once the irrepressible art-pop diva kicks into her effervescent, aptly named single "Water Fountain."

  1. Webster Hall 125 E 11th St, between Third and Fourth Aves
  2. Wed May 7 - Mon Jun 23
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Queen plus Adam Lambert

No one can replace Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant icon who fronted Queen until his untimely death in 1991. But among the pretenders to the throne thus far, none has matched the flash and moxie of American Idol runner-up Lambert, whose succesful prior outings with Brian May and Roger Taylor prompted this crazy little summer tour.

  1. Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave), between 31st and 33rd Sts, 10001
  2. Thu Jul 17
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Katy Perry

Six years on from "I Kissed a Girl," Katy Perry is still here, and then some. Far from the novelty starlet many initially pegged her as, she's evolved into the signature cotton-candy-fied pop princess of our time, a Dr. Luke–abetted megahit factory unto herself. Turn up for these big gigs, and hear Perry unleash her post–John Mayer–breakup roar in support of last year's blockbuster Prism.

  1. Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Ave, at Flatbush Ave, 11217
  2. Wed Jul 9 - Fri Jul 25
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Nine Inch Nails + Soundgarden + Death Grips

’Scuse us, what year is it, again? Though both Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden have comeback albums to promote—the impressive Hesitation Marks and the disappointing King Animal, respectively—you know you're going to hear plenty from these alt-rock icons' signature discs, NIN's The Downward Spiral and Chris Cornell & Co.'s Superunknown, which, crazily, dropped on the same day in March of ’94. The addition of noise-rap provocateurs Death Grips should lend a scrappy contemporary edge to this retro-minded bill.

  1. PNC Bank Arts Center Exit 116, Garden State Pkwy
  2. Fri Aug 1 - Sat Aug 2
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